Sunday, January 21, 2007

American Civil War

Not to restart the terrible fight, I was wondering if historical archaeologists find some errors in Ken Burns' presentation on PBS "Civil War". I just noticed, it's theme "Ashokan Farewell" or whatever was recorded in the NY Catskills and the series was on while I was working in the West Point Foundry vicinity in Cold Spring, NY for the archaeological clearance of the area for remediation of heavy metal contaminants associated with the Marathon Battery EPA site where nickel-cadmium batteries were made for Nike anti-missile missiles. We recovered in part the prototype I believe of the "Swamp Angel" platform from its grillage, that was used in the bombardment of Charleston South Carolina in 1863.

I found that the coverage of the so-called NYC "Draft Riots" almost absurd, as they ended when the tired band arrived from Gettysburg. At the time $300 got you out of the draft and many in New York City thought that unfair. It was also perhaps instigated by Southern sympathizers and agents, attempts were made to burn New York and the National Guard, which started as the military unit protecting the young American capital in New York City after the American Revolution was involved. They were involved in the riots (its also said a "primitive" hand held machine gun was used to defend a newspaper press) one of its leaders in courts martial because of actions in it, and the unit was ordered off in march to protect Washington, D.C., and disbanded after from Brothers Island in the Bronx, NY out of range perhaps of further entanglements with the locals. It seemed a little too brief and too little said in the documentary perhaps.

The reason I bring it up was because one of the National Guard units was on the group of properties I was part of an archaeological study of in the Bowery. My question is this: Have you ever been asked to evaluate the history of properties adjacent to buildings to be left out of the assessment because "they" (and others) have already been found "not to be significant"? And what would you do if you found information that makes them significant, e.g., Germania Hall, where Kate Mullaney of Troy, NY sitting next to Susan B. Anthony, was the first woman elected to a union in the United States and it was also the location of the perhaps the previous National Guard unit? It seems "architectural significance" rules.

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